Nets owner Joe Tsai hasn’t talked to Kyrie Irving since the organization decided against letting him be a part-time player and there’s no indication that the standoff will be resolved soon, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The basics of the situation haven’t changed — Irving still refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine and New York City still has a vaccination mandate in place that doesn’t allow him inside Barclays Center for home games.
“Obviously Kyrie has his own belief so I respect that. But we have to make a team decision,” Tsai said. “This is not a decision about him. This is a decision about where we go as a team. And it is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games. What do you do in practice then?
“This week we have a whole stretch of six home games, so we won’t have Kyrie. So it became pretty clear to us. We are very much aligned among myself, (general manager) Sean (Marks), coaching staff that this has to be (the decision), especially since we’re a team with pretty lofty aspirations. We don’t see any other way of running this team.”
Tsai refused to discuss a possible extension for Irving, who is eligible for a new contract worth $187MM over four years. There have been reports that the offer is off the table amid the vaccine controversy, but Youngmisuk notes that Tsai referred to Irving as part of the Nets’ future several times during the interview.
“I hope that Kyrie can be part of the team, part of Brooklyn long term,” Tsai said. “But I am not going to get into the extension thing. I think we have an immediate question of whether he can play this season, and I hope he gets vaccinated as soon as possible.”
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- Tsai believes he has shown that he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to keep the Nets in title contention every year, tweets NetsDaily. “Is that still a question?” he asked. “I’m going to pay $100 million in luxury taxes this year!”
- The absence of Irving, a slow start by James Harden and the challenge of working in 10 new players has left the Nets’ offense sputtering, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Although Brooklyn has a wealth of talent, its current offensive rating is 101.0, which is 25th in the league. “At times (the offense) can look bad,” Kevin Durant said. “But for the most part I think we’re generating solid shots. We’re still trying to figure out what players, what best position to put different players in, which lineups work the best, where guys should be spaced out on the floor.”
- Durant was fined $25K for throwing a ball into the stands during Friday’s game, the NBA announced (via Twitter).